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Posted at: Dec 2, 2017, 2:10 AM; last updated: Dec 2, 2017, 2:10 AM (IST)

Wellness for gourmands

Spa cuisine — the new big thing in food

Radhika Sharma

Relaxing massages, green tea, enriching oils and a warm atmosphere — spa days are just the best, aren’t they? A good time to step away from the hurries of life and unwind... But in the world of today, the experience is not limited to relaxation of the mind and body, but also taste. Spa cuisine has emerged as the flagbearer of healthy, organic and nutritious food, which is super tasty and equally appealing to the senses.

Restaurants specialising in spa cuisine (without an attached spa, of course!) are slowly coming up in all parts of the country. As India moves towards a healthier future, avenues such as these become a great way to experience alternative foods and drinks. So, the next time you feel like dropping the maida pita with that hummus, head over a spa joint for a taste that is not only good for your waistline, but works wonders on your palate too.

Tulsi in your salad

What is healthy eating without delicious salads, right? Seasonal veggies like spinach or fruits such as oranges, watermelons and muskmelons are combined with the medicinal values of tulsi, mint, flax seeds, chia, muesli, etc. (for the crunch) to make wholesome dishes. Juices and shakes, with that great infusion of local produce, are another aspect of the spa range. Spinach or lemongrass shakes and kokum and apple fusion, both rich in antioxidants, are big sellers. Their role in detoxification, weight loss and vitamin enrichment are the selling points for millennials. Interestingly, desserts have also seen a revamp. Spa cuisine makes use of jiggery and stevia for the sugar and rides high on gluten-free and flourless cakes.

Nothing boring about it

Now, your first impression of ‘nutritious spa cuisine’ must be that it’s devoid of sugar, fat, salt and carbohydrates, but it is anything but that. Chefs today are finding ingenious ways to incorporate fresh local produce to keep the health quotient at a high. Its pillars are seasonality with fresh fruits and vegetables, a balance in vitamins and minerals, innovation in technique and taste and finally to keep it as organic as possible. 

Dishes such as the humble risotto or even the Thai curry and rice have been given a spa twist. Here, rice is replaced by a more protein-rich grain, bajra, with almond cheese, and the Thai curry has fresh coconut milk instead of packaged goods. The trans fat saturated corn chips in a cheesy plate of nachos are gone and healthy khakhra-esque chips take its place along with freshly cut spicy salsa.

Makeover for pizza

Pizza is probably where spa cuisine shows its true innovative prowess. The pure maida base has seen variations such as ragi, amarnath and wheat and includes almond paste and even jowar in some cases. You can now binge on your favourite fast food without the fear of that bulge. This cuisine also includes plenty of superfoods such as quinoa, kale, ragi, spinach and barley to create innovative dishes such as beetroot hummus, buckwheat pancakes and even some gazpacho or cold soup.

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